Caucus Chair meets with conservative politicians to champion marriage equality
Chair of the Global Equality Caucus, Nick Herbert MP, has met with conservative parliamentarians in Japan and the Czech Republic to share his experiences campaigning for equal marriage.
Nick, a Conservative Member of the UK Parliament who is also the Chair of the UK All-Party Group on Global LGBT+ Rights, was the founder of the Freedom to Marry campaign when the UK Government announced in 2012 its intention to legalise same-sex marriage.
The successful campaign, which saw civil marriage rights extended to all couples in England & Wales in 2013 and followed by similar legislation in Scotland, also gave religious institutions the freedom to choose whether to offer same-sex ceremonies with no obligation to opt-in.
Upholding this principle of religious freedom was just one of the points raised when Nick met with other conservative politicians involved in similar campaigns in their countries.
As part of the Global Equality Caucus’s Asia-Pacific regional launch in Tokyo, Nick visited Pride House Tokyo, a pop-up information centre that is promoting understanding on LGBT+ and minority rights ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. At Pride House he met with Senator Masako Mori, a new member of the Global Equality Caucus and a legislator from the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who indicated her support for extending legal recognition to same-sex couples in Japan.
Nick was also able to meet with Keiji Furuya, another LDP member of the Japanese Diet and the Chair of the Government’s LGBT Committee. Mr Furuya is currently involved in discussions on the shape of new equality legislation, which the Government is due to introduce in the coming months. Nick and Mr Furuya discussed their countries’ progress on anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality, and the perspectives of fellow conservatives.
The conservative case for equal marriage was also championed by Nick when he joined a delegation at the Czech Parliament in Prague last month, where he attended a conference organised by the Jsme fér campaign to discuss efforts to introduce marriage equality in the Czech Republic. The delegation, which included Iowa State Senator Zach Wahls and US Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson, met with Czech parliamentarians who are currently debating a marriage equality bill.
The conference was attended by Czech parliamentarians from ANO, the current majority party in the government coalition, including Monika Červíčková, Lenka Dražilová, Jana Pastuchová, Věra Procházková and Jan Řehounek. Nick spoke about the conservative reasons for supporting equal marriage, such as creating secure and stable environments for children; the importance of the family in society; fidelity and commitment in relationships; and extending access to traditional institutions. Representatives from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), one of the UK Conservatives’ sister parties in the European Union, are using details of Nick’s speech to help inform their position on same-sex marriage.
The same-sex marriage bill has been progressing through Parliament since 2018 but it is not clear when a vote will take place, although the bill enjoys the support of the governing coalition. The Czech Republic currently offers registered partnerships for same-sex couples, but this law exempts certain rights such as adoption and joint taxes.
There is currently no legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in Japan.